On May 20-21, 2016 the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) and the Copernicus Program in Polish Studies (CPPS) hosted a conference at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland. The conference, “The Contemporary Interpretation of Historical Legacies in East Central Europe,” was co-sponsored and organized with the Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw and the POLIN Museum. Sixteen panelists participated, exploring a wide range of topics which all centered on how contemporary societies perceive and remember legacies throughout history. The first day of the conference culminated with a public keynote address by Jan Kubik, director of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College, London. Panelists included anthropologists, historians, political scientists, and sociologists from England, Poland, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Panelists and invited guests enjoyed guided tours of the POLIN museum and the historic Old Town district of Warsaw to complement the topics discussed throughout the two-day conference. The full program and participant bios can be found on the WCED Conferences webpage.

The conference was initiated under an agreement of cooperation between POLIN and CPPS. CPPS has previously hosted POLIN’s director and curator of the core exhibition for public lectures and meetings with faculty and students at U-M. WCED Director Anna Grzymala-Busse reflected, “we are delighted that our international collaborations are so fruitful: they made the conference a huge success.”

The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) combines academics with practical applications, promoting scholarship to better understand the conditions and policies that foster the transition from autocratic rule to democratic governance, past and present. It also educates new generations of practitioners who can apply their learning and experience to help extend democratic freedoms. Named in honor of Ronald and Eileen Weiser and inspired by their time in Slovakia during Ambassador Weiser’s service as U.S. ambassador from 2001-04, WCED began operations in September 2008. For more information, visit

The Copernicus Program in Polish Studies (CPPS) at the University of Michigan was established in 2014 after 40 years of activity and programs offered by the Nicolaus Copernicus Endowment. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the great Polish astronomer’s birth, the endowment and a Polish program were launched in 1973 in cooperation with students, faculty, and the Polish Americans of Michigan who contributed generously with their time, energy, and financial assistance. CPPS continues the tradition today by enabling faculty appointments, programming, and student fellowships in Polish studies. It also organizes the Annual Copernicus Lecture—established in 1980—which brings prominent academic, cultural, and political figures to campus to offer the public a deeper understanding of Poland’s people, culture, and history, as well as its growing influence in world academics, arts, and affairs. For more information, visit ii.umich.edu/crees.  


Contact: Julia Hlavac
Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies

Phone: 734.764.0351
E-mail: weisercenter@umich.edu